America’s interest in gun control tends to be fleeting

In the wake of the Connecticut school shootings, there's been plenty of discussion about gun control. But how long will that last?

Dylan Byers put together this chart that illustrates a fairly intuitive point. There's typically a flurry of news items about gun control right after a particularly horrific mass shooting. But the media's interest usually wanes after a month or two:


Nexis mentions of "gun control" in 2012.

Put this together with polls showing that most Americans' opinions on gun laws remained virtually unchanged after the movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. Indeed, even as mass shootings in the United States have become more frequent in recent years, support for gun control has declined (at least in the abstract, though some specific policies, like background checks, do poll well).

On top of that, all the recent political momentum in the United States has been in favor of expanding gun rights, not restricting them. That's been true even though 6 of the 12 deadliest shootings in U.S. history have taken place since 2007. Here's Dave Weigel with the legislative scorecard:

The 2010 Republican wave allowed a series of stalled bills to sail through the states. In 2011, Kansas and Nevada made it legal to "purchase long guns in non-contiguous states," Wyoming passed a "permitless carry" law, Arizona, North Dakota and Kentucky made it easier for people who'd lost their gun rights due to "mental illness committments" to get those rights restored. Maine, Texas, Indiana and North Dakota made it legal for gun owners to keep their weapons in their cars. Oklahoma and Alabama protected their citizens from "illegal gun raids."

What we still don't know is whether this time will be any different. For more on what political scientists have learned about public opinion on guns, see this post by John Sides. 

Related:

--Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States. There's a fair bit about politics and public opinion in here.

--Why are mass shootings becoming more common?

business

wonkblog

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Business

business

wonkblog

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Brad Plumer · December 14, 2012

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.